Retailers Respond To Parasource (1)

Christian Retailers,

I am Lynda Schoffro, the owner of the Gospel Lighthouse Christian Bookstores located in Southern Ontario for those of you who don’t know me.

On Saturday morning I woke to Paul’s blog, Christian Bookshop Talk, on the launch of the new Parasource Distribution consumer website. Parasource has chosen to market to the end consumer at a 25% sitewide deep discount and free shipping over $50.  As you all know they are the lone supplier in Canada for many publishers ( Baker, Worthy, Revell, DC Cook) , music labels (Provident, Integrity) and giftware lines (including Dayspring).

I spoke with Greg Tombs, owner of Parasource, later that day and found that he feels this is the next step for his business. He thinks that he is only competing with the online market and in order to do so needs to discount at this level to compete. Then I took the weekend to think it over…

I came to the conclusion that this is wrong on so many levels! I realize stores have closed but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have to honour the relationship with the retailers that are left. This decision totally devalues the retail value of our product by giving our customers a site wide discount that there is no way we can match.  It removes a link in the chain of business, and that link is the retailer.

Currently I have put my orders with them on hold while I try to decide my next step. How am I supposed to support a company who has stepped into the field as our direct competitor? I can’t idly sit by and help to subsidize their efforts to break into the online selling game while directly targeting customers and more openly Churches right in the areas where I am situated.

I have spoken with some of you, as well as other Sales Reps to try to determine my next steps. I have also reached out to some publishers to see if there may be the possibility of going to work with them directly. (David C Cook had no idea that this was happening, and are looking into it and getting back to me today) I realize that this isn’t an ideal situation but I feel the need to make a stand. If we all sit back and watch it happen, it surely will have a lasting effect on the future of our businesses.

So I implore you to take a stand, make a few calls, let them know that this is not proper business and let your voice be heard.

Feel free to contact me with any ideas, comments, and questions.

links that may be of interest:

Parasource’s Consumer Website

Paul’s original report re. Parasource

Blessings,

Lynda

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Bible Truth Supply in Corner Brook Closing

Bible Truth Supply, located in the Valley Mall in Corner Brook, Newfoundland will be closing on February 20th. Earlier this month this notice was posted on Facebook, “The time has come to say goodbye;” followed by a fuller explanation:

Dear Friends and Customers,

In 1973, Cecil was exercised before the Lord to have Bibles and Christian literature available on the west coast of Newfoundland. It started out as just a room in the basement of our home. The Lord has faithfully seen us through many, many trials over the years – the fire, a couple of floods, strokes and Cecil going home to be with our Saviour – just to name a few. (We should write a book!)

Bible Truth Supply has been run as a ministry to God’s people and for the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and not as a “for-profit” business. Competing with online stores has been difficult, but it is not the reason we have come to this very hard decision. Honestly, we feel the Lord is telling us it’s time. It is with a somewhat heavy heart that we write this letter – “somewhat” because, although it seems the Lord is telling us that a chapter of our lives is to come to an end and that makes us sad, the prospect of what the Lord has for the next chapter and knowing that He already has it planned out is reassuring. For some time now we – Marjorie, Bethany and family (as well as many other brothers and sisters-in-Christ both near and far) have been in prayer about the future of Bible Truth Supply. Now that our lease has come to an end with the Valley Mall, we feel that the Lord would have us to close.

Christianity is all about relationships. The most important relationship is with Jesus Christ – having Him as Saviour, and Lord of every aspect of our lives; secondly with our “in-Christ” family; and thirdly with those whom God puts in our lives for us to point to Him. Over the years we have come to know, love and appreciate you in Christ. We can’t count the number of times and ways you – our customers – have encouraged, blessed, challenged and touched our lives – as we pray we have done for you. “As iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17 We know that our employees over the years have experienced the same.

Because of Christ,
Marjorie & Bethany Roossinck


picture: Mall exterior from Valley Mall website

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Graphics Your Store Can Use

These are 500px wide and ready to post on Facebook and Twitter. Most of these are thrown together in 60 seconds or less; some are cropped from screen shots of supplier sell sheets. The James Robison one at the bottom is an example of what publishers have STOPPED doing. We had another one from Revell we were going to include here, but there was no clarity that it was promoting a book at all. Advertising and marketing departments are now too cool for hard sell. Suggestion: Next time a sales rep visits, every time he or she shows you a title you like, just say, “Is there HTML for that?”

Categories: Uncategorized

Grammy Award Winners: Christian and Gospel Categories

As we write this, the Grammy Awards telecast is happening tonight (28th) at 7:30 EST on CBS, but winners in the Contemporary Christian and Gospel categories are announced the night before. Here are your winners for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards presentation:

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album

Winner
Chain Breaker | Zach Williams

Nominees
Rise | Danny Gokey
Echoes (Deluxe Edition) | Matt Maher
Lifer | MercyMe
Hills and Valleys | Tauren Wells

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song

Winner
What A Beautiful Name | Hillsong Worship; Ben Fielding & Brooke Ligertwood, songwriters

Nominees
Oh My Soul | Casting Crowns; Mark Hall, Bernie Herms & Nichole Nordeman, songwriters
Clean | Natalie Grant; Natalie Grant, songwriter
Even If | MercyMe; David Garcia, Ben Glover, Crystal Lewis, MercyMe & Tim Timmons, songwriters
Hills And Valleys | Tauren Wells; Chuck Butler, Jonathan Smith & Tauren Wells, songwriters

Best Gospel Album

Winner:
Let Them Fall In Love | CeCe Winans

Nominees:
Crossover: Live From Music City |Travis Greene
Bigger Than Me | Le’Andria
Close | Marvin Sapp
Sunday Song | Anita Wilson

Best Roots Gospel Album

Winner:
Sing It Now: Songs Of Faith & Hope | Reba McEntire

Nominees:
The Best Of The Collingsworth Family – Volume 1 | The Collingsworth Family
Give Me Jesus | Larry Cordle
Resurrection | Joseph Habedank
Hope For All Nations | Karen Peck & New River

Best Gospel Performance

Winner:
Never Have To Be Alone | CeCe Winans; Dwan Hill & Alvin Love III, songwriters

Nominees:
Too Hard Not To
You Deserve It
Better Days
My Life

more info available at Grammy.com

No Canadian broadcast network is carrying the telecast

Parasource Launches Revamped Consumer Website

January 26, 2018 2 comments


Parasource Marketing and Distribution of Paris, Ontario, as they promised several months ago, have launched their new consumer website which will provide head-to-head competition for bookstores. The site, parasource.com offers resources from Parasource, HarperCollins Christian Publishing and for the first time, Foundation Distributing has signed on, though with limited — almost sparse — product offerings.

Currently product we checked from Baker, InterVarsity, Dayspring and Moody was being offered at a 25% discount. HarperCollins titles were 20%. Foundation product lines were all at net price; and the forthcoming Francine Rivers title was not showing in several searches. Some titles in Parasource’s own product stable, such as the Blessed Assurance album by Guy Penrod, did not appear in our searches.

Search capacity is much faster than the Parasource B2B site, but once again, there is no way to refine within results. Curriculum, including LifeWay is available, but at net price to the customer.

Shipping is free on orders over $50.

The Parasource church sales website, YourChurchZone.com was still live on Friday night and appears to be being kept current. Their music only site, YourMusicZone.com is still live but has not been updated since mid-Summer.

Some Canadian stores have strong feelings about their largest wholesale source also selling direct to their customers. For a few, this story is not all that significant, and it’s true that it represents an update to what has been the status quo for years. But for others, this is warfare, undermining their sales advantage with discounts that can’t be matched while maintaining a brick and mortar location with paid staff. 

Expect to hear more of the latter being voiced as Parasource does whatever their marketing strategy calls for to increase consumer awareness of the site.

Ted Dekker Returns to Christian-Owned Publishing Imprint

After several years with Center Street and Faithwords, both divisions of mega publishing company Hachette Book Group, the third largest trade and educational publisher in the world, Christian suspense author Ted Dekker is back with a Christian owned company, Revell Books.

The genre is often referred to as speculative fiction, because the plot lines can include supernatural contrivances; elements which are not part of the natural world. In a recent article on Christian fiction, Revell told Publisher’s Weekly that The 49th Mystic “portrays characters who live in two worlds and must recover five ancient seals to save themselves from destruction;” adding that, “The author of more than 40 books and winner of many awards, Dekker has sold more than 10 million copies of his books worldwide.”

Indeed a look at the Revell catalog shows that they have continued to up their game in suspense publishing with a strong presence in the category including work by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, Lynette Eason, Lisa Harris, Irene Hannon and more; as well as science fiction titles by Frank Peretti, Bill Myers, Alton Gansky, Angela Hunt, Thomas Locke and more.

A press release discussed the new title:

“We love to publish a gripping suspense novel, and Ted Dekker sets the highest standard in that category,” said Dwight Baker, president of Baker Publishing Group. “Our Revell team has prepared for many years to address this exciting new challenge to represent Ted Dekker and serve his many readers.”

Andrea Doering, executive editor for Revell, stated, “Publishing Ted Dekker’s work has been a goal for our team at Revell, and we’re thrilled to partner with him; Ted’s talent for creating an intense, richly layered story that stays with readers is just incredible.”

Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Lewis, added, “We are very pleased to have reached an agreement to publish Ted Dekker’s novels. His many previous novels have thrilled, entertained and scared readers, who love his writing as do we. We look forward to continuing with his current fans and to finding new readers for his books.

The 49th Mystic releases in May.

Competition Has Always Existed; Will Always Be There

We’ve run these before, but this picture was a couple of years older, from 2005. These appeared in most Christian magazines for at least two decades. If you think competing with the current online giant is challenging, imagine trying to convince your customers that supporting your store was better for them than getting 5 books for 99 cents.

There were some convincing arguments, too; customers had to buy 5 more books at regular price; it was negative option billing and shipping; the books continued after the first five unless you canceled; and then there was “Member editions somewhat reduced in size to fit special presses.” The latter didn’t just refer to the trim size of the book, but the excising of considerable amounts of content, or extra diagrams and pictures in the original.

Nonetheless, stores felt the impact. Competition is always out there and publishers are always cutting deals with the big guys that local stores can’t match.

Here’s an idea: Instead of dumping 2,000 copies of something with a remainder house, how about having reps call 50 stores and offering them 40 copies of the title at a price where they could sell them at 99 cents? For the stores which don’t do remainder book sales, it would be a pleasant surprise. 

That may not be realistic. The key to the Crossings offers was that they printed the books themselves. No inbound freight, per se and no royalties on the free books. Plus customers were contractually bound to buy the other five books at list price, so the mathematics worked somehow. 

But it didn’t work to the point that the Crossings Book Club is no longer around. Or is it? Actually, it is. Perhaps not as it was corporately structured, but the name is still alive and well and being used by Bookspan, who are still keeping the Doubleday Book Club name alive as well.

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Devotional Resource for Families

I’m always intrigued when bloggers and reviewers access products that those of us in retail have never seen or heard of. That’s how it was when, a few days ago, Canadian writer Tim Challies took a look at devotional aids for children.

He mentioned 101 Devotions for Guys and 101 Devotions for Girls. Parasource has rights to these Christian Focus Publications titles (Canadian MSRP 12.99) but currently does not have inventory in stock or on order. (That suggests to me again that Challies’ readers, if they were responding to this, January 9th article, simply chose Reformed channels over mainstream Christian retail.) But I found his final choice interesting:

… It’s called XTB, that’s short for Exploring the Bible. It’s from the Good Book Company. They also have a series called Tabletalk, that’s meant for families. And then the children’s version that goes right along with it, same text every day, is called XTB. These are both subscription based, they’re almost like a magazine that over the course of a few years, will take you through the whole Bible. They’re also more based on games and puzzles. So there’s word searches and things to fill out. It’s meant to be a little more of a gamified experience for the children. There is a scripture text, there’s a few questions for application, and then there’s a prayer as well. It’s a very good series. It can be very, very helpful. Especially if your family is doing the whole thing, or you’re doing it at homeschool, or whatever it is. Then to have the children reinforcing those messages on their own whenever they do their daily devotions.

According to the listing at Good Book’s website, each one seems to run 72-80 pages and covers three months. Unlike Phil Vischer’s What’s in the Bible videos, these books don’t run in a strict consecutive Bible order, but in a few I looked at, passages covered are grouped by themes. I checked and Parasource does have a few of the series in stock:

For any US readers, those are Canadian retails showing, US is $6.99. Table Talk has the same pricing. I was unable to screen-shot those titles as another series by the same name (from Abingdon) was listed and Parasource doesn’t allow you to refine results. 

The thing I liked about Challies’ article is that he’s clearly reaching parents who are serious about imparting solid content to their kids and making this exercise a regular daily habit. I’ll probably bring in a sample of XTB to my store, and I’ve already ordered one each of the 101 Devotions… series to take a closer look.

 

Good News: Two Stores Not Closing

After years of reporting on the closing of stores and also the attempts to reopen Christian retail in markets where stores have closed, it’s exciting to note that in two recent cases, people have stepped up to continue the vision of two existing stores, purchasing the business, inventory and fixtures.

British Columbia: The Nails

First, after Rae-Anne Guedes at The Nails Christian Bookstore in southeast British Columbia reported on January 6th that there was still no buyer, on January 19th she posted this:

A day later she posted:

I am so excited that an amazing couple has decided to keep the Christian Bookstore running in Cranbrook. Sitting in the store this morning it seems crazy to think I only have 5 and a half weeks left here. 40 DAYS!

Ontario: Durham Christian Bookstore

On Thursday, I dropped in on Bill and Sharon VanDerHerberg at Durham Christian Bookstore in Bowmanville, Ontario. This store is about the closest store to our own, and customers had reported that the store was closing, but again: Good News! They have found a buyer who will shadow Sharon in the store throughout February with a change of ownership taking place in early March. The store opened in 1989 and celebrated 25 years in 2014. 

Update: After this article went out to subscribers, we were notified that a new website for the store is up and running, and it’s rather well-done website at that. Check out durhamchristian.com and learn more about new owners Jason and Meredith Chin.

 

 

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OM Ships Announces Remainder Sales to Canadian Retailers

Logos Hope (Wikipedia)

Three weeks ago we covered the closing of Books4Eternity, a remainder wholesale business based in Manitoba. At that time Autumn Youngs stated that the business would be assumed by OM Ships. We requested information on what the protocols would be for stores wishing to order and received this answer from Sherri Goodnight, Director of Sales:

Due to Books4Eternity closing, OM Ships International will now be working directly with Canadian customers. If customers would like to receive our lists, please contact Sue Eldridge at 641-648-2900 or sue.eldridge [at] gbaships.org. All orders will be shipped by UPS and OM Ships will be offering ½ free freight (includes prepaid freight, customs and taxes) on orders over $100 net! Customers will not have to worry about customs clearance and taxes! OM Ships will handle all this for them!

For those who don’t know the history of Operation Mobilization’s floating literature ministry — a good time to mention that for 2½ years my brother-in-law served as a marine engineer with them in the late 1980s, along with his wife — we were also given some background to share with you:

OM Ships International is the organization behind Logos Hope. The Ship Ministry began in 1970 as part of the global Christian training and outreach movement, OM International. Since then OM’s ships have visited 480 different ports in 151 countries and territories and welcomed over 46 million visitors on board.

Our goal is to share knowledge, help and hope with people of the world. We do this by supplying vital literature resources, encouraging cross-cultural understanding, training young people for more effective life and service, providing needed relief, and sharing a message of hope in God wherever there is opportunity.

In order for the Ship Ministry to supply the literature resources to the thousands of visitors who daily come on board Logos Hope, there is a Ministry Center in Florence, South Carolina where pallets with boxes and boxes of literature resources come in that need to be sorted, repacked and made ready to send to the ship and wholesale customers throughout the world.

Many of these remainders are donated by publishers, and in addition to supplying the ship, are made available to retailers in the U.S. and Canada at reduced prices. For many years this service (known to some of you then as OM Lit) had been provided in conjunction with STL Distributors. In an international context, especially in more sensitive countries, not all titles donated by American publishers work as well on the ships, so your purchases really do help out the ministry.

Note Re. ½-free shipping: Stores need to remember that the relationship between weight and total invoice costs is different when working with remainders. Shipping charges may seem high to those of you who haven’t purchased bargain books from the U.S. previously.


Wikipedia Entry on MV Logos Hope ship:

MV Logos Hope is operated by the German Christian charitable organization GBA Ships e.V (Gute Bücher für Alle, English: Good Books for All)…

…Twice as big as any previous ship operated by the organization, the ship was completely refitted over a period of 5 years. Logos Hope provides a better quality of life for crew as well as a wider range of activities for visitors and guests. The newly created Logos Hope Experience (which is situated on a deck that was installed into the original ferry’s car area) holds up to 800 visitors at any time, with capacity to host an additional 500 in the Hope Theatre and Logos Lounge. This publicly accessible deck offers visitors an introduction to the vessel and the organization, a book fair featuring over 5,000 different titles of educational and Christian books, a visual presentation called the Journey of Life, which is based on the story of the “Prodigal Son”, and the International Cafe.

The all volunteer crew and staff of 400 people, represent over 60 different countries. Unlike the crew during her original use as a car ferry, crew and staff normally join the organization to live on board for two years as volunteers.

Link to om.org; the official OM website.

 

Shortening the Distance Between the Sales Floor and Management

As a long-time observer of this industry, I’ve been asked many times over the past decade about store closings, probably a key barometer as to the health of our industry. On those occasions, I’ve often remarked that in some regions, it’s been the large market stores which have taken the greatest hits. The major cities lose key stores while many small(er) town stores seem to limp along as always.

I was thinking of that in light of the Sears closings this weekend. Again, a massive chain that some employees felt put too much distance between upper management and what was being discussed on the sales floor. (See the Toronto Star interviews with staff published Saturday.)

We must be listening to our customers.

Before writing this, I completed an order with one of several remainder sources we use. It wasn’t anything special, and there weren’t any key titles I was after. Instead it was a topping up. We had a slow year, so I don’t need to top up anything necessarily. However, without exception, each of the 30 lines on that order was based on some interaction we’ve had with customers. One or two of this, one or two of that, but all of it entirely launched with feedback and inquiries from shoppers; many of which make us aware of where we’re either missing or light on product sub-categories.

Here’s the sum of this:

I believe every customer conversation produces fruit for store buyers.

Buyers, owners and managers: Let your sales staff be your eyes and ears. You need to know what’s being requested. You need to avoid the isolation which comes with having an office. Maybe that’s why the small(er) town stores survive, because there is no upper management; owners are serving customers themselves.

If those buying the product aren’t on the sales floor, they need to keep their office door open so that sales associates can stick their heads in the door and say,

  • A woman was just asking if we’re ever getting ________ back in.
  • We just had a phone call wondering if we carry books by ________ .
  • Did you know we only have ___ copies of the ____ translation in stock right now?
  • I just unpacked a shipment from _________ and immediately sold two copies of _______, I think we’re out already!
  • On Sunday at all three services at ________ church, the pastor recommended that everyone get _______ .
  • I just did a look-up and confirmed that ________ is going to be going out of print; it’s one of our bestsellers; can we get more right away?
  • A customer just walked in talking about a new song Christian stations are playing by ________ .           …etc.

That type of interaction is gold. It’s on the same level of why major retailers are willing to invest or pay to get customer preferences and profiles.

You want your staff to collect email addresses, right? Well, it’s winter; it’s a slow time; get them to start collecting something else! Train them as spies! Get them to gather information in the field and bring it back into command central where it can be decoded into valuable purchasing decisions.

Sound like warfare? It is!

 

The Human Right by Rice Broocks Ties in to God’s Not Dead 3 Movie

A new book from Rice Broocks, author of Man, Myth, Messiah, God’s Not Dead and The Purple Book is releasing February 20th from W Publishing (an imprint of Thomas Nelson) and will be promoted at the end of the movie God’s Not Dead 3: A Light in Darkness which releases Easter weekend.

Publisher marketing:

A different kind of evangelism book.

Just as the author’s book, God’s Not Dead, laid out the logical reasoning for God’s existence, and Man Myth Messiah established the existence and identity of Jesus Christ, now Rice Broocks brings a definitive book on the logical necessity to make the proclamation of the Gospel our highest priority. In fact, it is actually the ultimate justice issue and therefore the most important of all human rights. Consciously or subconsciously, many now believe that demonstrating tolerance is more important than truthFundamentally, the right to know the truth is even greater than the freedom to believe. Because Jesus Christ is the Truth, then humanity shouldn’t be denied the right to hear about Him, make their own decision, and then have the freedom to tell others.

Canadian Stores: There is an ITPE schedule for this title.

While we’re sharing trailers, here’s a peek at the movie: